Monday, April 30, 2007

1980-1990 Developments (1979)

The last two pages of the 1979 book Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century describes what will happen over the course of "the next 120 years." Naturally, we'll begin with the 1980s.


1980-1990

-Satellites in Earth orbit beam educational programmes to many countries in the underdeveloped Third World.
-Wind turbines - modern windmill designs - are developed which can supply electricity economically.
-Domestic computers run household equipment. Electronic chores include keeping accounts, ordering supplies, suggesting menus, cooking meals and keeping a diary for the people living in the house.
-Newspapers supplied to homes either via a computer print-out or in electronic form over the TV screen.
-First domestic robots used as household 'slaves' to do simple tasks.
-Terrorists steal nuclear warhead from military base. Threaten to blow up a city unless their demands are met. General realization of the appalling risks of poor security promote measures to keep atomic weapons under proper 'lock and key.'
-Nuclear fuel detector-satellite placed in orbit to maintain a watchful electronic eye on the world's supplies of atomic material.
-Good insulation and other energy-saving features built into all new houses.
-Solar panels in general use to heat water in homes. Solar-electric cells used to generate electricity for some uses, such as recharging batteries.
- World tree planting programme begun. Aim is to restore the oxygen-producing capacity of the world's plant life. Centuries of being chopped down have reduced the world's forest areas to a fraction of their former size. Other benefits include the production of wood-alcohol to use as a substitute for petrol in cars.

1999 A.D. (1967)


Split second lunches, color-keyed disposable dishes, all part of the instant society of tomorrow. A society rich in leisure and taken-for-granted comforts.

In 1967 the Philco-Ford Corporation released a short film titled 1999 A.D. In it the inevitable advances of the future are demonstrated. This clip of the kitchen of the future showcases a world of automation, maximized health, and a push-button culture; themes we see throughout the film.





Like the film Future Shock, you can find 1999 A.D. on the DVD Yesterday's Tomorrows Today, released by A/V Geeks.

See also:
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)

Memory of 'Tomorrow' (New York Times, 1941)

Fanciful visions of the future were few and far between in the early 1940s. This article by Sidney M. Shalett, from the April 27, 1941 New York Times sums up why.

It was on a Sunday morning - the last Sunday in April - two years ago when the great World's Fair opened: April 30, 1939. In cold print the date does not seem so remote, but in two short years the rush of history, with its swift, terrible violence, has turned that brave, new World of Tomorrow into an almost forgotten legend of yesterday.

Shalett goes on to explain the sense of wonder surrounding the Futurama exhibit and the speech by President Roosevelt, officially declaring the Fair open.

Two years have passed. Vanished into limbo are the hectic days of 1939 and 1940. What history has done to the memory of the Fair the wrecking crews have done to the physical structure of the once-enchanted acres. Like the dinosaur, the Fair had to go, but maybe it shouldn't have gone so quickly. Today it is almost all gone: an empty, sad shell by day; an unbearably lonely graveyard by night.

The author ends the piece on a note of hope.

Too many memories! It is best to leave this place for a while. It will be better to return in July. Then the first units of the great Flushing Meadow Park that is to rise on the site of the Fair will be ready. Perhaps there is symbolism in that, too. Out of the wreckage of yesterday's dream of the World of Tomorrow a place of recreation, rest and beauty is being fashioned for today.


The caption to the image reads:
Where on April 30, 1939, throngs gathered "for peace and freedom," the wrecker is today finishing his work, clearing the way for a park of tomorrow.

See also:
All's Fair at the Fair (1938)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Homework in the Future (1981)


Forget jetpacks, Martian colonies and floating cities. We may have found the most astonishing claim made by anyone of the paleo-future. According to the 1981 book School, Work and Play (World of Tomorrow), in the future, homework will be fun! Upon hearing the news every child of the early 1980s choked on their bologna sandwich.

Learning by computer in the future will be fun. This computer is displaying a chemistry experiment for the older child and arithmetic problems for the younger one. The computer controls include light pens to draw on the screens. The chemistry student has done something wrong and has caused an explosion!

See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 7, 1993)
The Road Ahead: Future Classroom (1995)

Friday, April 27, 2007

In 50 Years: Cars Flying Like Missiles! (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1959)

The Chicago Daily Tribune ran an article in their April 26, 1959 edition proclaiming, "In 50 Years: Cars Flying Like Missiles!" Below is an excerpt from the piece.

Can you imagine an autoist driving up to a "gas" station 50 years from now and receiving replacement energy capsules for his car instead of getting a tank full of liquid fuel?

Also, can you imagine flying automobiles directed by automatic guidance systems?

These were possibilities discussed last week by Dr. Andrew A. Kucher, Ford Motor company vice president in charge of engineering and research, in an address at Northwestern university.

See also:
Flying Car Patent (1991)

Ray Gun book (1999)


The book Ray Gun by Eugene W. Metcalf and Frank Maresca examines the science fiction side of the paleo-future. I tend to stay away from pure science fiction on the Paleo-Future blog but there's no doubt that images of futuristic heroism had a large impact on mainstream ideas of what tomorrow held.

Above is one of the many ray guns featured in the book which were beautifully photographed by Charles Bechtold. This particular gun is from 1950s Japan. Below is an image from the Buck Rogers Origin Storybook, originally published in 1933.



See also:
Space Colony Pirates (1981)

'Humanization of space' envisioned in shuttle's wake (Christian Science Monitor, 1979)

A November 2, 1979 article by John Yemma in the Christian Science Monitor outlined Jesco Von Puttkamer's vision of America's future in space. Von Puttkamer was a planner for NASA and even consulted on the first Star Trek movie.

By the late '80s or early '90s, a huge solar power satellite may be constructed to beam microwave energy to Earth. And after that, a natural step as Mr. Von Puttkamer sees it, will be space colonies built with nonterrestial material and using solar energy.

See also:
Space Colonies by Don Davis
Sport in Space Colonies (1977)
Solar Energy for Tomorrow's World (1980)

Power Macintosh Ad: This future belongs to the past (1994)



In 1994 Apple Computer ran a series of ads that were essentially reflections on the paleo-future. The idea was that with the Power Macintosh the real future had arrived.

See also:
Apple's Knowledge Navigator (1987)

Prelude to a Great Depression (The Chronicle Telegram, 1929)

In the March 8, 1929 issue of the Chronicle Telegram (Elyria, Ohio) Roger W. Babson made predictions of what the future held. Below is an excerpt under the heading of "Stocks and Bonds." Babson couldn't estimate how quickly everything was about to change and that it would be for the worse. It almost reminds me of an Onion article in its optimism for the future.

In finance there will also be marked changes as the years roll by. The present generation has been chiefly interested in trying to buy and sell stocks and bonds at advantageous prices. While this is an important aspect of finance, it is very far from being the only aspect and perhaps it cannot be called the most vital aspect. I am ready to make this forecast, that during the next twenty years the public will develop a totally new viewpoint toward finance. The word will not only take meaning for thousands of people of very moderate income, but those of wealth will get entirely fresh concepts. I foresee with especial assurance that the field of trusts will offer great opportunities. The American public is being taken into partnership in our great industries of large scale. I feel very positive that the number of people interested in stocks and bonds will increase far out of proportion to the mere increase in population.

See also:
Dancing on the Moon (1935)

The Kids' Whole Future Catalog (1982)


The 1982 book The Kids' Whole Future Catalog features a broad range of paleo-futuristic hopes and dreams. From floating cities to rocketbelts this book runs the gamut of 1980s futurism. Unfortunately, it also contains some scam artists such as Uri Geller. For the most part it's a great read and we'll definitely be checking out more from this book over the next few weeks.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Superfarm of the Year 2020 (1979)


The 1979 book Robots (World of the Future) includes the "Superfarm" of the year 2020. Many of the advances that they write about appear to have become a reality. That being said, I've never seen a farm that looked like that. Plastic domes are in contention with the videophone and flying cars for supreme perpetual technology of the future.

Compared with a farm of the present-day, this one seems more like a factory. The high food production required by a vast human population may make factory farms the only way to avoid mass starvation.

1. Farmhouse. Weather reports arrive via satellite; computers keep track of stock and grain yields.
2. Automatic harvester glides along monorail tracks.
3. Helijet sprays fertilizer and weedkiller.
4. Grain is pumped along tubes to nearby city. Old-fashioned trucks are little-used.
5. Many people regard present-day factory farming of animals as cruel and unnecessary even though most housewives are happy to buy cheap factory-farmed chickens. If people still want cheap meat, more of it may have to be produced in this way. Here, cattle are shown in space-saving multi-level pens.
6. Monorail train, loading up with beef.
7. Plastic domes protect crops like tomatoes and strawberries.
8. Orbiting space mirror provides night-lighting to boost crop yield.


See also:
Farm of the Future (1984)
A Glimpse of the Year 2000 (1982)
EPCOT's Horizons

Sealab 1994 (1973)


The 1973 book 1994: the World of Tomorrow has yet another example of future colonization of the world's oceans.

In this permanent undersea base of the future, scientists working at an oceanographic laboratory and operations center seek ways to exploit the vast food and mineral resources of the earth's ocean basins. Such a center would maintain communication with other similar bases and shore installations by means of optical fiber transmission cables and buried antennas.

See also:
1994: The World of Tomorrow (1973)
Man's Future Beneath the Sea (1968)
Undersea Cities (1954)
Hubert H. Humphrey's Year 2000 (1967)

Animals of 2076 (1977)


The quote below from Phoebe Burdg of San Martin, California was featured in the Tricentennial Report, published in 1977. Phoebe describes animals of 2076 that will of course be mechanical.

The only live animals are these necessary to provide meat. Any others are expertly mechanized duplicates of the real thing, as depicted in the many museums around the world . . . .They are manufactured on demand. A family may have an animal dependent on their ability to give credits for it.

See also:
The Tricentennial Report: Letters from America (1977)
Lisa's Picture of 2076 (1976)
Tricentennial Report Ad (Oakland Tribune, 1976)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Computer Rights Pact of 2007 (1982)

The Omni Future Almanac is 293 pages of paleo-future glory. In the "Projected Computer Milestones" section of the book I naturally turned to 2007, curious just how far behind we are. It then occurred to me that if we interpret the DMCA in a certain way, we are sadly right on schedule.

Demand for a global Computer Rights Pact will lead to the signing of such an agreement by most world nations. This document will set forth rights of humans and computers over authorship of software (including books, movies, economic models, etc.), creation of patentable systems, and mistakes arising from computer recommendations. At the same time, a Computer Appeals Network may be established for countries to air international grievances. Even in the 1980s, questions arising from the theft of computer software and hardware have frequently arisen. American software companies have been particularly vulnerable to theft of material by Soviet agents.

Future Shock (1972)


According to a review in The History Teacher, the movie Future Shock, hosted by Orson Welles, was shown on American TV in early 1974.

While the reviewer calls it, "one of the most provocative short films of the past decade," I dare call it the single weirdest film to ever claim the genre of documentary. Below is a clip of the introduction by Orson Welles.



The film is based on the book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler and chronicles what is claimed to be a new affliction that will soon overcome the globe.

You can find Future Shock on the DVD Yesterday's Tomorrows Today, released by A/V Geeks.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Space Colony Pirates (1981)


This scene of a picnic gone horribly wrong can be found in the book Future War and Weapons (World of Tomorrow) by Neil Ardley. The author talks about "the ultimate weapon," the death ray of science fiction which has become a reality. I suspect that this image had an effect on the children of 1981 similar to that of the Robot Rebellion we looked at earlier in the week.

See also:
Robot Rebellion (1982)
Sport in Space Colonies (1977)

Startling Changes in Housing in Year 2000 (Chicago Tribune, 1961)

The Chicago Tribune ran an article in their July 22, 1961 issue titled, "An Expert Foresees Startling Changes in Housing in Year 2000." The article outlined the revolutionary changes that we would see by the year 2000.

What will our homes be like in the year 2000?

This question was the basis for some long range forecasts recently by Chris J. Witting, vice president in charge of the consumer products group of Westinghouse Electric corporation.

He said many homes of that era will be "demountable."

"That is," he explained, "our homes will move with us when we change locations, just as our furniture does today. The house will be assembled of interlocking room units, each with its own thermo-electric heating, cooling, and lighting system built into the walls."

See also:
Westinghouse (1964)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)

Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)

[Update: The Paleo-Future blog has moved. You can read and comment on this entry here.]

A Quick Stroll on the Water
Paleo-Future reader Tom T. sent me an amazing collection of postcards from the dawn of the twentieth century that depict what life would be like in the year 2000. According to Tom the postcards were originally featured here but have since been removed. The site claimed that the postcards were produced by Hildebrands (a leading German chocolate company of the time).

The Moving PavementHouse-Moving by TrainTelevised Outside BroadcastingPersonal Flying MachinesWeather Control MachineCombined Ship and Railway LocomotiveUndersea Tourist BoatsRoofed CitiesPersonal AirshipsSummer Holidays at the North PolePolice X-Ray Surveillance Machine

See also:
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (Milwaukee Excelsior, 1901)
The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1901)
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)
Amphibian Monorail (Popular Science, 1934)

Civilized Adultery (1970)

Futurism books and documentaries of the 1970s were adament that attitudes towards sex and sexuality would change drastically by the year 2000.

What I call civilized adultery will exist a great deal more in the 21st century. People will agree with each other, husbands and wives, to have adulterous affairs from time to time quite above board instead of having them secretly behind each other's backs. They will not get upset about these any more than lots of people in other societies in the past, and present, do not get upset about adulterous affairs.

The excerpt above is from an essay by Albert Ellis, featured in the 1970 book Prophecy for the Year 2000.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Tomorrowland, Disneyland Opening Day (1955)

Yes, this is Tomorrowland. And it's not a stylized dream of the future but a scientifically planned projection of future techniques by leading space experts in science.

This clip from Tomorrowland during the 1955 live broadcast of Disneyland's opening day shows the same brand of optimism we often see in 1950's predictions of the future.




You can see the entire broadcast of the opening of Disneyland on the DVD Walt Disney Treasures - Disneyland USA.

See also:
Walt Disney and City Planning

Factories in Space (1982)


The 1982 book The Kids' Whole Future Catalog made the rather ambitious prediction of entire industries sprouting up in space by the year 2000.

In the future, products from space will be in great demand. Economists are predicting a 20 billion dollar market for space-made goods by the year 2000.

See also:
Challenge of Outer Space (circa 1950s)

Animal Food Abandoned (The Anaconda Standard, 1914)

The Anaconda Standard in Anaconda, Montana ran a piece on January 11, 1914 titled, "How Things Will Be in the Twenty-First Century." The story states the fairly common belief that the world would move away from meat consumption.

Cooking, perhaps, will not be done at all on any large scale at home.....and cooking will be a much less disgusting process than it is now. We shall not do most of our cooking by such a wasteful and unwholesome method as boiling, whereby the important soluble salts of nearly all food are thrown away. As animal food will have been wholly abandoned before the end of this century, the debris of the kitchen will be much more manageable than at present.

See also:
In 1980 Americans Will Eat Less Beef (1928)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (1993)

After spending the past two weeks looking at the 1993 video, Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future, I think we've learned a lot about the paleo-future. Most interestingly, we've learned that the communications networks of tomorrow will be highly rational, controlled systems brought to you by AT&T. Below are all nine parts of the 14-minute video. Enjoy.

Part 1


Part 2



Part 3


Part 4


Part 5


Part 6


Part 7


Part 8


Part 9



See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 2, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 4, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 5, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 6, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 7, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 8, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 9, 1993)

Man's Future Beneath the Sea (1968)


This image from the 1968 book Explorers of the Deep: Man's Future Beneath the Sea depicts the inevitable colonization of the ocean floor.

Man has only two vast, natural frontiers left to him: outer space and the oceans, both of which are still virtually unexplored and unexpoited. In the years to come, technological breakthroughs will make possible a major escalation on the part of the world's oceanographers to develop the resources of the oceans for the benefit of mankind. The new realm of hydrospace will provide thousands of new job opportunities and bring about the birth of dozens of new industries as our oceanic engineers perfect the techniques to dive deeper and stay longer under the surface of the seas.

See also:
Sea City 2000 (1979)
Undersea Cities (1954)
The Future World of Transportation

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 9, 1993)

And now, the thrilling conclusion to our paleo-futuristic tale of love, loss and mountain climbing bears.




See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 2, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 4, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 5, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 6, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 7, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 8, 1993)

The Robot Rebellion (1982)


In all the futurism books written for children, this may be the most hilariously disturbing two-page spread I've seen. This image, from the book Fact or Fantasy (World of Tomorrow) depicts robots that have determined humans are no longer necessary and now must be hunted down.

I can just see some little Billy or Susie in the early 80s reading that, "...allied to robots of superhuman strength, these computers might take over the world and see no place in it for ourselves." The aforementioned child then proceeds to poop their pants.

See also:
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Donald Duck's "Modern Inventions" (1937)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 8, 1993)

Part 8 of our 9 part series looking at the 1993 video Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future begins with some rather mundane character development and moves into the final resolution of the dispute over a new housing project. "Mountain Climbing Bear" also makes a cameo.

It's noteworthy that we don't get to see the entire car he's driving (I guess their budget wasn't that big) but we still get the picture that we're in the future. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion.



See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 2, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 4, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 5, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 6, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 7, 1993)

Tricentennial Report Ad (Oakland Tribune, 1976)


This ad requesting submissions for the Tricentennial Report begins with, "We have always been a nation more interested in the promise of the future than in the events of the past."

Curiously, the second sentence then plays Debbie Downer with, "Somehow, the events of the past few years have made us doubt ourselves and our future." Watergate? The Vietnam War? I didn't know the U.S. Bicentennial was such a depressing event.

Below is the full text of the ad:

We have always been a nation more interested in the promise of the future than in the events of the past.

Somehow, the events of the past few years have made us doubt ourselves and our future.

Here at Atlantic Richfield, however, we see the future as an exciting time. The best of times. And we know that all of us can achieve a splendid future by planning for it now.

We'd like your help. We need your vision. We want you to tell us about the changes you would like to see take place in America - and in our American way of life.

For example:

What ideas do you have for making life more fun than it is now?
What changes would you like to see in government? (City? State? Federal?)
What do you envision as the best way to solve our energy problems?
What about the future of business? (More regulation by government? Less?)

Or if those topics don't appeal to you, pick one that does.
How should our physical world be altered?
Do you recommend that we live underground? In plastic bubbles?
Will family life change? Will we choose a spouse by computer? Will divorce be illegal?
What should our schools be like? Should machines replace teachers?
What will make us laugh? What will be funny that isn't funny now?
What new major sports would you like to see? Three-dimensional chess? Electronic billiards?

Whatever your idea may be, we want to know about it. Write it. Draw it. Sing it. But send it.

In about six months we plan to gather your responses, analyze them, and make a full report on what we've found out. We believe the report will provide a fascinating and valuable view of America's hopes, dreams, fears, and visions. We'll make sure it reaches the people who are in positions to consider and act on it.

Along the way we will make television commercials and newspaper and magazine ads out of many of the ideas so you can see what other people are thinking.

Please note that all ideas submitted shall become public property without compensation and free of any restriction on use and discourse.

See also:
The Tricentennial Report: Letters from America (1977)
Lisa's Picture of 2076 (1976)

Predicts Conventions in Space by Year 2000 (Chicago Tribune, 1965)

The June 15, 1965 edition of the Chicago Tribune contained a great prediction from a Chicago real estate broker about the year 2000:

By the year 2000, business conventions will be held at interplanetary "cosmotels," to which most delegates will travel in their own family "volkscapsules" or "satellacs," Walter P. Kuehnle, a Chicago real estate broker said yesterday. He addressed the congress of 19-nation International Real Estate federation in Brussels, Belgium.

I'm interested in learning whether the imaginative terms above were the invention of Mr. Kuehnle. If he came up with the word "volkscapsules," I want to be his new best friend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 7, 1993)

With concepts like "linking to the Education Center in Washington, D.C." AT&T clearly had ideas about the infrastructure of the Internet that didn't quite pan out.

Part 7 of the 1993 video Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future gives us a glimpse of a computer-centered classroom where kids can learn at their own pace, thanks to digital teachers.



See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 2, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 4, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 5, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 6, 1993)
The Road Ahead: Future Classroom (1995)

Health Care in 1994 (1973)

Chapter two of the 1973 book 1994: The World of Tomorrow outlines health care predictions for the future:

From time to time, headlines announce the startling new developments in the field of medicine such as: freezing people after death so that they can be revived one hundred years later; and creating "mechanical" men full of artificial replacements. Since few serious prognosticators believe that any of these "medical wonders" will actually occur in the near future, let's take a look at what we can realistically expect to see in 1994:

- The practice of medicine directed toward the prevention, rather than the treatment, of infectious diseases.
- Health insurance for every American.
- Vaccinations to immunize children against rheumatic fever.
- The control, perhaps the prevention, of hypertension by new drugs and chemicals.
- Intensive coronary care units in all hospitals for the treatment of acutely ill patients. (The American Heart Association estimates that such facilities could save some 50,000 heart patients who now die each year.)
- Detection and removal of blood clots before they produce damage from heart attack or stroke.
- Vaccines to prevent the venereal diseases of gonorrhea and syphilis.
- A vaccine to prevent tooth decay.
- Routine lung and liver transplants.
- More sophisticated drug treatment for epilepsy.
- "Medical cities," resembling sprawling shopping centers, consisting of high-rise hospital buildings surrounded by parking areas and garages.
- Most doctors employed full time at medical center complexes, and more physicians trained as specialists.
- Development of drugs for the successful treatment of some cancers.

The prediction of universal health insurance for Americans is obviously the most politically contentious issue on the list. I wonder what kind of support the idea had in 1973 compared with today.

See also:
1994: The World of Tomorrow (1973)

That Synthetic Food of the Future (Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1926)


This cartoon appeared on page 10 of the Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden City, Utah) on September 19, 1926. In a clear homage to Dilbert, the boss in panel three screams, "It's the second time this week you've taken four minutes for lunch!!" It seems like everyone's stealing from Scott Adams these days.

(Click on the cartoon to make it larger.)

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 6, 1993)

Part 6 of the 1993 video Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future features shopping for a wedding dress with an electronic mannequin. I imagine that of all the clothing purchases one can possibly make online, buying a wedding dress would be the absolute last choice.


See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 2, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 4, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 5, 1993)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Solar Energy for Tomorrow's World (1980)

The foreword to the 1980 book Solar Energy for Tomorrow's World proclaims, "A New York Times poll taken in 1979 revealed that 42 percent of the American people optimistically believed that our energy problems could be solved by solar energy in just five years. Most scientists think that's too optimistic. But whether it takes five years - or ten or twenty - they are certain that we will eventually realize what once seemed like only a remote dream."

The illustration below, from the first chapter of the book, depicts a future of harnessing the power of the sun as a solution to the energy crisis.

In the future you may expect to see many structures like this "tower of power." It captures the energy of the sun by reflecting its rays on a boiler atop a twenty-to-fifty-story structure. The heat converts the water or other liquid to steam, which powers a turbine. (Honeywell)

What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)

[Update: The Paleo-Future blog has moved. You can read and comment on this entry here.]

On Monday we looked at the German translation of a piece by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. for the December 1900 issue of Ladies Home Journal. Today we have the English version which highlights the coming advances of the twentieth century. Below the full text is provided but we'll be examining it further over the next few weeks.

Excerpts from the article below can also be found in the book Yesterday's Future: The Twentieth Century Begins.


See also:
The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1900)

Amphibian Monorail (Popular Science, 1934)

The July, 1934 issue of Popular Science features the sleek, modern look we often see in this era of the paleo-future; beautiful images filled with hope that the future could somehow hold promise.


Amphibian trains that can whiz above desert sands on an overhead rail, or plunge into the water to ford a river, are contemplated by the Soviet Government in an amazing plan to tap mineral wealth in Turkestan. They are to travel three projected monorail lines of unprecedented design, totaling 332 miles in length and crossing deserts and rivers.


A single overhead rail on concrete standards could be erected at low cost along these routes, engineers estimate. Air-porpelled cars with twin, cigar-shaped hulls could straddle the track and glide along it, at speeds reaching 180 miles an hour, according to calculations based on tests of models at Moscow. The cars would be equipeed with Diesel-electric drive, and each would carry forty passengers or an equivalent freight load. Where the longest of the projected routes crosses the river Amu-Daria, a mile and a quarter wide, it is proposed that amphibian cars be used. On arriving at the shore the cars would leave the overhead rail and cross the river as a boat. Soviet engineers are reported already surveying the route.

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 5, 1993)

Continuing our series of clips from the 1993 video Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future, today we have part 5. Practicing medicine over picturephone, personal computer assistants and a glimpse of the classroom of the future are just a few of the paleo-futuristic wonders featured in this clip and clips to come.


See also:

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 2, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 4, 1993)
The Road Ahead: Future Classroom (1995)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Farm of the Future (1984)


The illustration above is featured in the book The Future World of Agriculture (Walt Disney World EPCOT Center book), published in 1984.

The farmer in this artist's conception of a farm of the future sits in his computer room (right), studying images of his fields beamed down from a small Landsat satellite. The red spots on the screen indicate crop stress that needs to be corrected. With the aid of his computer, which processes the data and suggests a solution, the farmers solves the problem. Robots in the field (one is seen at far left) take the corrective action ordered by the farmer. At center, the farmer's wife and child talk to the operator of a huge farm machine used for plowing and planting.

The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1901)


In 1900 John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., author of many detective and mystery novels, wrote a piece for the December issue of Ladies Home Journal speculating about what the next hundred years held. Everything from weather control to pneumatic tube delivery to the science that will surely bring "strawberries as large as apples" were predicted.

According to the book Yesterday's Future: The Twentieth Century Begins the Watkins article was translated into German for the Milwaukee Herold und Seebote (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) in 1901.

Above is a scan of the front cover of the January 1, 1901 Milwaukee Herold und Seebote newspaper and below is the article by Watkins. Stay tuned for an English-language translation and analysis.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 4, 1993)

As in part 1 of Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future, part 4 gives us a look at a curious technology that not only translates what someone is saying over the picturephone, but also matches the movement of their mouth to the language being translated.




See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 2, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)
Picturephone as the perpetual technology of the future
AT&T "You Will" (1993)

Hubert H. Humphrey's Year 2000 (1967)

Yesterday we looked at Hubert H. Humphrey's vision of 1967-1987. Today we have the second part to the Vice President's piece in the February, 1967 issue of The Futurist.

Far-Out Developments by A.D. 2000
For the year 2000, however, we can foresee some really far-out developments:
The virtual elimination of bacterial and viral diseases.
The correction of hereditary defects through the modification of genetic chemistry.
The stepping-up of our food supply through large-scale ocean-farming and fabrication of synthetic proteins.
Control of the weather, at least on a regional scale.
In space, the landing of men on Mars and the establishment of a permanent unmanned research station on that planet.
The creation, in the laboratory, of primitive forms of artificial life.
This can indeed be an age of miracles. It will be your age.


The ocean and space continue to pop up as the paleo-future's greatest unexplored frontiers.

See also:
Hubert H. Humphrey's Future (1967)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Metropolis of Tomorrow (1929)

The Hugh Ferriss book The Metropolis of Tomorrow, originally published in 1929, is an amazing work broken up into three parts: Cities of Today, Projected Trends, and An Imaginary Metropolis. Needless to say, the last section is most intriguing for our purposes.

The image below is a radial design for a city that pops up many times in the succeeding years, notably in Walt Disney's original design for EPCOT.The first center to be seen is that structure, or complex of structures, in which the control of the business activities of the cities is housed. Here is located the seat of government of the city's practical affairs, including its three chief branches - legislative, judiciary and executive.

At this closer view we can distinguish in greater detail the characteristics of the tower-buildings. The tower itself rises directly over the intersection of two of the master highways to a height of 1200 feet. There are eight flanking towers, half this height, which, with their connecting wings, enclose four city blocks. The center extends, however, over eight adjoining blocks, where its supplementary parts rise to a height of twelve stories.

We see, upon examining the Avenue, that more than one level for traffic is provided. Local wheel traffic is on the ground level; express traffic is depressed; pedestrians pass on a separate plane above.

Beyond the center, the lower districts of the city are visible, together with the radial avenues which lead to the other tower-buildings of the Business district.

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 3, 1993)

Today we have part 3 of the wonderfully paleo-futuristic video Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future. Being partial to past visions of virtual reality, this may be my favorite part of Connections. Whether it's your favorite part or not, we still have plenty of this 1993 video to examine.


See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 2, 1993)
Virtual Reality (1980s-today)
AT&T "You Will" (1993)

Hubert H. Humphrey's Future (1967)

For the February, 1967 issue of The Futurist magazine, Hubert H. Humphrey, wrote a piece articulating his vision of the future. The Vice President broke up his thoughts into two categories; Developments of the Next 20 Years, and Far-Out Developments by A.D. 2000.

Here are some of the developments we can look forward to within the next 20 years:

In agriculture, the large-scale use of de-salinated sea water.
In medicine, the transplantation of natural organs and the use of artificial ones.
In psychiatry, the widespread application of drugs that control or modify the personality.
In education, the use of more sophisticated teaching machines.
In wordwide communication, the everyday employment of translating machines.
In industry, the extensive use of automation, up to and including some kinds of decision-making at the management level.
In space, the establishment of a permanent base upon the moon.
Some of you might say that there is nothing very surprising here. And you would be right.
Experience shows that it takes 10 to 30 years for a new idea to make its way from its inception in a scientist's mind to its general application in everyday life. Therefore, the world of 20 years from now already exists, in embryo, in today's advanced research establishments.


A theme in 1960's America that seems to pop up repeatedly is faith in a permanent moon base. Tomorrow we'll look at Hubert H. Humphrey's predicitions for the year 2000.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lisa's Picture of 2076 (1976)

Young Lisa Gilvar of Happy Hollow School in Wayland, Massachusetts submitted this picture for the Tricentennial Report, published in 1977. Domed habitats in the sky seem pretty cool to me. I might go with a different color scheme for the poles, but hey, I'm no designer of the future.

See also:
The Tricentennial Report: Letters from America (1977)

Age 75 to Be Noon of Life in Year 2000 (Chicago Daily Tribune, 1925)

The March 10, 1925 article from the Chicago Daily Tribune titled, Age 75 to Be Noon of Life in Year 2000, begins with a fictional news story from the year 2000:

Washington, D.C.- [Special.] - Gen. Harry Doe, known in the army as "Light Horse Harry," was killed late today when struck by an automobile while crossing the street. The general was only 103 years old, and was a dashing soldier.

"He was cut off in the flower of his manhood," said the secretary of war.

"A young man with a great future before him. We must enact more stringent laws against reckless driving."


The article goes on to explain that such stories will "be common in the papers seventy-five years hence" and that "according to Dr. Gilbert Fitz-Patrick, famous surgeon of the Gorgas Memorial Institute, a man's expectancy of life will have been raised from the present fifty-seven years to 100 years, perhaps more."

Aside from the obvious fact that today, 100-years-old is not the average life expectancy I'd like to address the quote from the secretary of war, "He was cut off in the flower of his manhood." I wish that modern day secretaries of defense (even hypothetical ones) could say such things.

It makes me giggle like a schoolgirl when I picture Donald Rumsfeld or Robert Gates saying, "the flower of his manhood," but I guess they had different expressions in 1925.

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 2, 1993)

In 1993, AT&T produced a video called Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future. Today we offer part 2, which features a photo-capable tablet that also serves as a picturephone. The acting in this section is particularly priceless. (And by priceless, I mean wooden.)




See also:
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)
AT&T "You Will" (1993)
Apple's Knowledge Navigator (1987)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

1994: The World of Tomorrow (1973)

The 1973 book 1994: the World of Tomorrow, published by U.S. News & World Report, starts with a preface that is optimistic yet thoughtful and measured.

"Like George Orwell's work, 1994: The World of Tomorrow, offers a warning that the future cannot be taken for granted. The future is forseeable. Unless, as Orwell cautioned, we anticipate future problems, begin the search for alternative solutions, and stake a claim on our long-term future, we may lose what it has to offer."

However, like any book of futuristic projections we quickly get to the fanciful visions. And let's be honest, would you read this blog without the spectacle of absurd, often wrong, predictions? Stick around, because 1994 was a much cooler year than any of us ever knew.

Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)


Part two of the September 13, 1959 Chicago Tribune article Call a Serviceman: This Cry Will Still Be Heard in Year 2000 offers more paleo-future goodness. To bring you up to speed, our housewife of the future has just heard the yelps of her poodle Fifi as it is being attacked by the futuristic vacuum cleaner.

By the time I'm back in the house, the cleaner, having finished its job on Fifi, has scooted back to its cubbyhole in the baseboard.

"I think," my daughter says, "you'd better call a service man."

The vidiphone (telephone combined with television) signals for attention. A neighbor's face comes into view. Scowling, she says, "Your lawnmower is cutting all the flowers in my garden!"

"O, dear! Something must be wrong with its radar eye!"

"Yes," my neighbor agrees. "It needs glasses!"

I call a service man. It seems the logical thing to do. Afterwards, I sink into a chair and pick up a book.

A door slams and my son comes in, announcing, "I'm hungry."

"I'll get something," my daughter volunteers. (That's what's so wonderful about the pushbutton age - everyone is willing to help with the work.) "We'll have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," she proclaims, pushing a button.

We wait, nervously, while the electronic-brain goes to work.

Guess what - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Only, instead of serving them on plates, the electronic brain tosses the sandwiches upward. They land on the ceiling.


Stay tuned for part three of this riveting tale of domesticity.

See also:
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)

Lunar High Jump (1979)

As promised, today we have a highlight from the 2020 Olympic Games; the lunar high jump. These Games will, of course, take place on the moon.

One of my favorite things about this image is the "special equipment" needed to replace the bar. At first glance I assumed the bubble enclosing the man in the vehicle was to protect him and that air was being pumped in. I then realized that the athletes don't need the same type of protection.


A reoccurring element of the paleo-future is the expectation of superfluous design. That is to say, we make things appear different and beautiful because we can. With a few design modifications the utility vehicle could be much more practical, but where's the fun in that? I guess that's why we fall in love with the future and why dystopian images are that much more jarring.

This image is featured in the 1979 book Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century (World of the Future) which is a volume in the compilation book The Usborne Book of the Future: A Trip in Time to the Year 2000 and Beyond.

See also:
Olympic Games on the Moon in 2020 (1979)
Sea City 2000 (1979)
Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century (1979)
Ristos (1979)
The Future World of Transportation

Monday, April 9, 2007

Computers the size of a room (1970)

While this image of the 1954 "computer of the future" is a hoax that still manages to pop up whenever the topic turns to paleo-futurism, I recently came across a hilarious quote from the 1970 book The End of the Twentieth Century? along much the same line of thinking.

This excerpt, from page 71, illustrates the lack of imagination we often have when it comes to technology and thinking exponentially:

"Computers will benefit even more than telephones from the development of integrated circuits in ever smaller 'chips', and very small computers may emerge. Most computers will probably still occupy a large room, however, because of the space needed for the ancillary software - the tapes and cards to be fed in, the operating staff, and the huge piles of paper for printing out the results. But future computers, though no smaller, will be capable of doing far more than their predecessors.

Paleo-Future Forum

If you look to the sidebar you'll see that I've included a link to a new forum on Google Groups dedicated to Paleo-Future. This forum will hopefully allow for more interactivity and allow readers of Paleo-Future a place to discuss paleo-futurism and present-day futurism, share resources and bring attention to important links.

I've started the group with a handful of topics that I often discuss here on the Paleo-Future blog. Your input is always welcome, whether it be here on the blog or on the newly created message boards. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think of this new experiment.

-Matt

matt@paleofuture.com

Undersea Cities (1954)

Rather than a floating city, today we have an image of undersea cities from the book Out of Time: Designs for the Twentieth-Century Future.

The book says that the image was published on the cover of if magazine in January of 1954. The most perplexing choice of the artist is why some of the "undersea cars" are driving on the ocean floor. It doesn't seem very practical but I'm sure that it helped 1950s audiences picture such an environment as familiar or more desirable.

See also:
Sea City 2000 (1979)

Friday, April 6, 2007

Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (Part 1, 1993)

There are no language barriers in the paleo-future.

In 1993 AT&T produced a fourteen minute video called Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future. It looks like it had quite a large budget but I can't figure out who the audience was for such a video. It has a similar feel to AT&T's "You Will" TV commercials which were also produced in 1993.




You can view part 1 of Connections here. Stay tuned for more. We follow a large cast of characters through this world of the future which of course includes plenty of Virtual Reality.

See also:
AT&T "You Will" (1993)
Face-to-Face Telephones on the Way (New York Times, 1968)
The Road Ahead: Future Homes (1995)

Virtual Reality (1980s-today)

10 Zen Monkeys has a great article about the paleo-futuristic promise of Virtual Reality. As the article points out, we may have things like Second Life, which is mentally gripping but is far less physically immersive than what was projected.

I remember looking at Nintendo's Virtual Boy in the mid-90s and thinking, "Finally! It's just a matter of time before virtual reality takes over the gaming market."

Jaron Lanier, the developer that was interviewed for the 10 Zen Monkeys article has a Top Eleven Reasons VR Has Not Yet Become Commonplace. It's worth a look. I find number 7 the most intriguing in a lot of ways.

"Because human acuity is so good that you can't get away with so-so specs as you can when the interface is less intimate, as with existing mass produced devices." I can't decide if the Wii proves number 7 or shows that technologies that are becoming more immersive are more attractive for their playability than their graphics.

The image above is from the Walt Disney World attraction Carousel of Progress which was updated in the late 1990s to include a futuristic family playing a virtual reality game.